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Youth Crimes

When a young person (aged 12 to 17 years) is accused of a crime, the Youth Criminal Justice Act gives police and Crown several options for sentencing, as the focus of legislation for young offenders is on rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Court procedures are generally the same as those for adults, but options for sentencing and how sentencing works are different for youth offenders and include community-based measures and creative, non-custodial sentences to encourage reform. Also, the identity of a young offender is generally not made public, to avoid the stigma of a prosecution and to allow the youth to participate in school and the workplace more easily.

The maximum penalty for most offences tried in youth court is two years in jail and one year of community supervision, or, for first degree murder, a life sentence with up to ten years served in custody. In rare circumstances, a young person who commits a violent crime may be tried in adult court. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act the Provincial Court is designated as the Youth Court in British Columbia.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act encourages victims to have a role in community-based measures for a young offender. If you are the victim of a crime committed by a youth, talk to the police for more information.

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